Armagh see red in card drama
Laois 1-15 Armagh 1-10
It was high drama at Portlaoise as Armagh lost their star player Ciaran McKeever to a straight red card before the ball was throw in for the second half.
Referee Michael Duffy called McKeever as the teams lined out for the restart and the centre back was stunned and for a period refused to leave the field.
It transpired that McKeever had struck out at Laois’s Billy Sheehan in the tunnel as the teams left the park at half-time and the incident was witnessed by the linesman who reported it to the referee and he proceeded to take the ultimate sanction.
Laois led at half time by 0-7 to 0-4 but Armagh were clearly stung by the sending off and the home side with the extra man tacked on five unanswered points to lead by eight points after 14 minutes of the half.
Armagh however staged a magnificent comeback and by the 20th minute had the gap down to just two points after a splendid goal from Caolan Rafferty.
Armagh, however, were bitterly disappointed that in the end they lost the game as they missed at least five other goal chances with Eoin Culliton making as many magnificent saves to deny them time and time again.
Manager Paddy O’Rourke was furious at those costly misses and still amazed at the sending off long after the game.
“Ciaran McKeever doesn’t know why he was sent off,” he said. “I don’t know why he was sent off and I would say even the Laois supporters don’t know why he was sent off. It had a big bearing on the game but we still should have won it.
“It pleased me the way we fought back but we really should have scored a few more goals.”
Referee Duffy had to receive a strong escort off the field at the end of the game as selector Paul Grimley came to him and launched a verbal assault while he was roundly booed off by the vocal Armagh followers. Certainly a number of decisions went against O’Rourke’s side but it was the brilliance of Laois keeper Culliton that denied them in the end.
Scorers for Laois: Paul Cahillane 1-1, MJ Tierney 0-3, C Begley 0-3, Ross Munnelly 0-2, Darren Strong, Colm Kelly, Billy Sheehan, Damien O’Connor, Mark Timmons, Colm Meaney, all 0-1
Scorers for Armagh: Caolan Rafferty 1-1, Aidan Forker 0-2, Brian Mallon 0-2, James Lavery, Gavin McParland, A Duffy, J Kingham, Michael O’Rourke, all 0-1.
Laois: E Culliton, C Healy, K Lillis, P O’Leary, M Timmons, K Meaney, C Boyle, B Quigley, J O’Loughlin, R Munnelly, B Sheehan, D Strong, C Begley, A Kelly, MJ Tierney. Subs: P Cahillane for Kelly (ht), D O’Connor for Tierney (55 mins), J Kavanagh for Sheehan (67 mins), C Kelly for O’Loughlin (70 mins).
Armagh: P McEvoy, A Mallon, D McKenna, F Moriarty, K Dyas, C McKeever, P Duffy, P Carragher, BJ Padden, A Forker, B Mallon, A Duffy, C Rafferty, C Watters, G McParland. Subs: J Lavery for Carragher (24 mins), C Vernon for Padden (40 mins), M O’Rourke for McParland (46 mins), J Kingham for Forker (50 mins), R Rafferty for Waters (63 mins)
Referee: M Duffy (Sligo).